Tag Archives: Lockheed Martin

Star Wars Era to come: US Air Force to employ laser cannons on jets by 2030

According to the recently published RFI (Request for Information), the ARFL (Air Force Research Laboratory) is looking forward to development of the laser weapons for next generation fighter jets.

Even if this is an Air Force initiative, it is possible that the Navy and US Army will run similar independent research programs.

The U.S. Air Force plans to employ laser based weapons by 2030.

Based on requirements weapon elements will have to be ready for laboratory test by October 2014, while they must reach readiness for test on a plane and in simulated operational environment by 2022.

Three new laser devices are to be created: small power marking laser, that would act as a marker and as a blinding weapon against the optical sensors of the enemy planes; medium power laser that is to be used against air-2-air missiles; and a high power device to act as an offensive weapon.

The weapon is to be operable up to 65,000 feet of altitude and within a speed envelope of Mach 0.6 – 2.5.

Northrop Grumman is developing a solid state laser for the U.S. Navy, Lockheed Martin is on a 30-month contract to develop a prototype turret in an aircraft for the Aero-Adaptive/Aero-Optic Beam Control (ABC) system, while Boeing works on ground forces solutions, including HEL MD cannon that is to be vehicle mounted. Some solutions have been tested already, e.g.  USS Ponce self-defense system against small vessels.

It must be remembered though, that the laser program is not going to be the first USAF experience with this kind of weapon, since the U.S. Air Force already used ABL on a 747.

That laser was anti-tactical missile weapon, based on Chemical Oxygen Iodine laser, developed within a Boeing program.

Cancellation of that program does not mean nothing has survived. NOTAMs issued since the YAL-1 was retired prove that airborne laser testing has not ceased.

ABL used a laser range finder, tracking laser (TILL – Track Illuminator Laser) and finally BILL (Bacon Illuminator Laser) and it was after that when the target was finally destroyed by the main weapon.

USAF tested a chemical-laser weapon using Lockheed C-130H back in 2009.

The laser weapon that is to be developed will probably be employed firstly on the F/A-XX aircraft, that is to constitute a replacement for the Super Hornet.

Jacek Siminski for TheAviationist

Top image credit: ARFL

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Lockheed Martin releases new High Speed Strike Weapon hypersonic missile concept image

Last week Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works acknowledged the existence of an SR-71 Blackbird, capable to fly at hypersonic speed with a dual ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) and Strike capability, dubbed SR-72.

In accordance with the new slogan “speed is the new stealth”, Skunk Works is studying high Mach systems that would give platform equipped with these weapons the capability to strike heavily defended targets, quickly and undetected.

Among LM’s hypersonic programs focusing on both “expendable missiles” and “reusable aircraft”, the High Speed Strike Weapon (HSSW), “a hypersonic missile concept suitable for future bomber and fighter aircraft” was not a secret.

However, there was only one HSSW concept image available.

Until Lockheed Martin released the one you can see on this post that is a bit more detailed (if any detail can be gathered from a rendering) than any previous one.

Image credit: Lockheed Martin

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Lockheed tests new Stealth Long Range Anti-Ship Missile from Vertical Launch System

Lockheed Martin has tested the new LRASM (Long Range Anti-Ship Missile) from an Mk41 VLS (Vertical Launch System) launcher at the White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.

Last month the first LRASM prototype was launched by a Dyess Air Force Base’s B-1 Lancer bomber on the Point Mugu range, in California.

The LRASM was fired with a BTV (Boosted Test Vehicle), a Mk-114  rocket motor developed by Lockheed Martin alone, already used by VL/ASROC torpedoes.

Lockheed Martin’s Scott Callaway, LRASM surface launch program manager at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, said:

“This successful flight test reduces the risk of LRASM and VLS integration, the test also validates the Mk-114 rocket motor’s capability to launch LRASM and the missile’s ability to cleanly exit the canister without damaging the missile coatings or composite structure.”

The LRASM can currently be fired from U.S. Air Force B-1s, and will be integrated on the U.S. Navy’s F/A-18 Hornets and warship’s VLS.

Based on the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile Extended Range (JASSM-ER), the LRASM is a stand-off weapon armed with a blast-fragmentation warhead, that can cruise autonomously, day or night, in all weather conditions. The missile features a multi-modal sensor, weapon data link and an enhanced digital anti-jam Global Positioning System to detect and destroy specific targets within a group of ships.

Jacek Siminski for TheAviationist

Image credit: Lockheed Martin



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RAF pilot performs first UK takeoff of F-35B Lightning at sea

Beginning in 2018, according to the current schedule, the F-35B, the STOVL (Short Take Off Vertical Landing) version of the Lockheed Martin’s Joint Strike Fighter, will operate from Royal Navy’s Queen Elizabeth aircraft carriers.

Whereas pilots and ground crews are working alongside their U.S. Marine Corps counterparts at Eglin Air Force Base, in Florida, a UK pilot, Sqn Ldr Jim Schofield, performed the first UK takeoff of an F-35B at sea on USS Wasp.

As part of the testing campaign aimed at expanding the plane’s flight envelope, the F-35B conducted vertical night landings on USS Wasp off the Florida coast.

Noteworthy, the pilot explains how easy to fly is the STOVL JSF, compared to the legendary Harrier Jump Jet.


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B-1 Lancer bomber launches first prototype of new Stealth Long Range Anti-Ship Missile

The brand new LRASM (Long Range Anti-Ship Missile) based on the AGM-158 JASSM-ER (Extended Range) missile was successfully tested at the Point Mugu range, in California, recently

The prototype of a stealth anti-ship missile was first tested on Aug. 27, 2013, even if DARPA released the news some days later.

Along with its ability to be launched from aircraft, the missile will be compatible with Mk41 Vertical Launch System used by surface warships and submarines.

The tripartite research is carried out together by DARPA, USAF and US Navy’s Office of Naval Research, with Lockheed Martin being the manufacturer of the weapon.

The rocket was tested using a Dyess Air Force B-one (“Bone”), from 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron.

The new missile uses its inertial navigation and GPS (global positioning systems) to find its target, and an infrared seeker for pinpoint accuracy right before impact. Noteworthy, the weapon is reported to be extremely jamming resistant and able to operate in “contested and degraded environments”.

The missile hit a moving unmanned 80m vessel: unlike other anti-ship missiles, the LRASM is capable of conducting autonomous targeting, relying on on-board targeting systems to autonomously identify the target without the need of having the target’s GPS in advance.

During the first test, half the way to the target, the missile deviated from the planned route and started an autonomous flight towards the intended place of hit, using own systems: three objects were placed in the target are and both were automatically identified.

The missile initially flies at medium altitude before descending to low altitude to avoid anti-missile defenses by means of a sea skimming approach to the target.

Even though the weapon is based on JASSM-ER, it is believed to have the same range as a standard JASSM (about 200 miles). The difference with JASSM (a GPS-guided cruise missiles with 2,250-lbs warhead) is in its avionics: the LRASM features a multi-mode radio frequency sensor, a new weapon datalink and altimeter. What is more, the missile also houses an uprated power system.

Two more tests are planned later this year.

By the way the U.S. and Finland are active users of JASSM missiles, while Poland will probably purchase the weapon for its F-16 Block 52+’s.

Jacek Siminski for TheAviationist

Top image: B-1 drops a JASSM (Lockheed Martin)



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